The Inaugural ceremonial boat journey from Leeds to Liverpool is to be recreated in honour of the 200th anniversary of England’s longest canal.
Leeds & Liverpool Canal’s bicentenary celebrations will reach a high point in October when the historic short boat Kennet re-creates the 127 miles passage across the Pennines.
Organised by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, which runs Kennet as an education boat, and supported by the Canal & River Trust, the voyage will be the culmination of a year of festivities and celebrations.
Flotillas “decorated with flags and streamers”, accompanied by “hearty cheering of immense assemblage of spectators” greeted the original ceremonial boat journey in October 1816, which lasted for five days.
Billed as “the greatest long distance waterside party Yorkshire, Lancashire and Merseyside have ever staged,” the upcoming voyage will begin from Leeds on October 15 and end in Liverpool nine days later.
Kennet organiser Harold Bond said: “We are calling on heritage boats, boat clubs and boaters to create a flotilla of decorated boats to join Kennet along the way. We would love to see crowds lining the canal as we pass by. Several mayors have already agreed to receive us and at least one brass band will be serenading us as we sail past.
“It would be fantastic if we could be joined by local schoolchildren and community groups, cheering and waving flags. Kennet will be decked out in bunting to symbolise the two great shire county roses. It would be wonderful to be greeted by a sea of red and white as our procession sails along.
“Back in 1816, press reports state that the ceremonial first boat was greeted by peeling church bells, brass bands and cheering crowds, and canal barges were be-decked in flags and streamers. We would love to create that spirit of celebration and achievement again.”